How to Make Hotel Technology Profitable

Written By: Fee Naaijkens

Hotel tech professionals from all over the world gathered at HITEC Amsterdam last week. After dozens of informative sessions, inspiring keynote speeches and one thrilling hotel tech start-up pitch competition, one thing was very clear: The number of companies offering technologies that can benefit a hotel business is overwhelming. How is a hotelier to know which is the right piece of technology to implement?

To help with that quandary, here are a couple of takeaways from the 45th HITEC—also the first ever to be held in Europe.

1. Invest in a data strategy

Setting up a data strategy requires time and effort. According to Samir Sharma of the London-based company Datazuum, the first question that should be asked is: How can you monetize your data? What will you get out if it? Whether it is upselling food and beverages to your VIP guests or optimizing your rates, having a clear goal will tell you what hotel technology you should be using.

Daily Point CEO Michael Toedt pointed out seven important data sources that can help you gain insights into what your guests want:

  1. Property management system
  2. Email
  3. Restaurant reservations
  4. Website
  5. Wi-Fi
  6. Newsletter
  7. Questionnaires

Toedt: “If you are not linking at least four of these sources to your customer database, you do not know who your customer is.”

But beware—there is always a risk of gathering too much data, warned both Sharma and Toedt. So invest time in setting up your data strategy correctly. Try to find out who owns the data in your company, how to connect the data from other staff members, and—last but not least—make sure that your staff is digitizing the data.

Think it is too early to start implementing a data strategy into your hotel business? Think again. Because even if you are not, your competitor is.

2. Hire millennials from hospitality schools

During a panel discussion, senior lecturer Ian Miller, CHTP from the École Hôtelière de Lausanne queried four students of hospitality schools about what they like to have in their hotel rooms and how they book. Claudia Dradi, a hospitality and business management student at Hotelschool The Hague, said: “We do not need a TV, I rarely watch the shows. What I need is a plug so I can charge my devices.”

When asked about millennial booking behavior, Dradi replied: “We compare prices, we want everything for less.” So are they loyal to hotel brands? Not particularly—but they are loyal to the booking sites and metasearches that compare these prices for them. And having found their ideal hotel for the best price, millennials will look for a personalized guest experience. They do not want to have to ask about dining recommendations, they want the hotel to offer them suggestions. And with millennials’ personal preferences available for the taking on their social media profiles, there is no reason why hotels cannot accommodate this expectation.

To some of the attendees, this all sounded pretty demanding. And it is, admitted Dradi. But millennials are used to a world in which everything is one click away. The good news is that hospitality students like Dradi and her peers are ready to take on the challenge of digitizing the industry. Get them involved and let them test hotel technology for you. Because if millennials are not already your guests, they will be in the near future, so who is better positioned than they are to give feedback on whether something adds value to your hotel business or not?

3: Connect every piece of hotel technology

How can you connect all your existing software to one cloud-based system, so they communicate with one another? If this is your main IT struggle, then an Enterprise Service Bus solution might be worth considering. It connects your applications, devices and services, and makes it possible to collect data from your guests’ social media profiles and—depending on your current software—push personalized offers to them by locating the guest through the hotel’s Wi-Fi connection. So if they are in the bar, for example, they receive vouchers for their favorite drink. Another perk is that when all devices are connected to the cloud, it notifies the staff immediately when there is a technical error in a certain room or with a payment system.

Jan Jaap van Roon, CEO of Ireckon: “We can even integrate into your hotel property technology that improves the experience of your guests. By using sensors in the carpets, we know when guests are approaching their hotel room and can open the door for them, before they have even reached for the key in their pocket.”

All in all, HITEC Amsterdam was a great way to learn more about the opportunities hotel tech has to offer to the hospitality industry today. And who knows what next year will bring?

Fee Naaijkens is the industry manager for the Netherlands and Belgium at Trivago, a leading global hotel metasearch, helping travelers to find their ideal hotel for the best price. Follow Trivago on Twitter (@trivagoHM_nl) and Facebook.

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